Cybersecurity Leader- Thought leaders are defined as informed leaders who are the go-to people in their fields of expertise. To me, they are leaders we aspire to be like, people we would like to emulate. It’s this definition that brings to mind questions I am continually asked about becoming a cybersecurity thought leader.
This is not an easy topic; however, in the discussion to follow, I will answer questions on the steps I have taken to develop my own thought leadership skills.
What are some essential thought leader qualities?
I believe a thought leader should be passionate about their area of expertise. They should be curious and willing to learn new things and help others. Also, I think it’s essential for thought leaders to be humble. They should be prepared to collaborate and be comfortable learning from mistakes.
How can one get started as a cybersecurity thought leader?
One of the first exercises I used was conducting a personal inventory. What type of jobs, technologies, services, tools, hardware, etc., have you worked with? What projects have you supported? Creating this inventory provides a list of topics. Next, review your list and determine how comfortable you are with each item. For instance, I use a rating system based on a range of 1 to 5:
• Score of 1: I’m comfortable speaking to a group of five to 10 people.
• Score of 3: I’m comfortable writing about the topic and speaking to a group of up to 50 people.
• Score of 5: I’m comfortable publishing a piece on this topic in a medium that is widely read and speaking to a group of 100 or more.
Once you’ve scored each item, segregate the list to contain only the subjects that scored in the range of 3 to 5. This serves as your thought leadership road map, and you will need to refresh yourself on these subjects.
Once you’re comfortable with a topic from your list, write an article, and have peers review it. This helps to develop your writing style and gain feedback on how well you cover a specific subject. To begin my efforts, I made a list and segregated it into those topics I could write and speak about now and created a second list of items to work on later.
As a thought leader, should you choose an area of specialization?
Cybersecurity as a career field has numerous domains and specialties. To develop as a thought leader in our community, I believe it is best to start with an area you are already working in. This doesn’t mean you must be an encyclopedia of information about that area, just that you should have enough knowledge to speak about it intelligently. It should also interest you, and you should know how to educate yourself as it matures. This goes back to my statement about having passion — if you don’t have it, no one is going to view you as a thought leader.
Now, with your list and your focused areas of expertise, let’s publish something.
What are some venues or publications friendly to new thought leaders?
For writing, begin by writing a couple of articles for social media or community websites, and ask readers for their responses. Also, read books, articles, blogs, etc. and use those resources to create a list of sites to target for publishing.
For speaking, start with local professional groups within your area of expertise. Once you’re comfortable speaking, apply to speak at larger conferences. The lesson here is to start small. Look to the websites and magazines you are currently reading for publication opportunities and local professional groups for presenting. This allows you to fine-tune how you deliver information based on your audience and then move to larger venues when you’re ready.